Friday 27 July 2012



Thursday 26 July 2012

Another Update on Breathalyser Kits in France

On the 2nd July we added a post saying "Breathalyser kits now obligatory in cars in France - check your hire car"  advising that it is now the law to have one of these kits in your car in France.

There had been a great shortgage of these in the south of France according to an article in "The Riviera Reporter". I personally hired a car earlier this month and although the car hire reception had a sign up saying this was the law in France from July, no kit was in the car and I could not buy one locally, experiencing the same problem as detailed in the Riviera Reporter article.

I was told when I returned the car to the depot that that particular car hire company would not be supplying quite, probably leaving it till later in the year when the new law will probably be greatly enforced.

Breathalyser kits on sale in Halfords, England

Earlier today, I visited my local Halfords and saw that they were selling these at £5.95 each which is around.€7.60 - quite a high price, but maybe for peace of mind to save hunting one in France or risking a €11 fine. 

If you can find them in France and I expect by now there are more supplies, they actually cost around €2.   

I didn't buy one as I already had one that I bought back in April in France and no doubt there will be plenty of these for sale and the cross channel car ferries.

The reason for going into Halfords was to make sure I am 100% legal for driving in France. I already carry a warning triangle, first aid kit  and reflective jackets and the sooner it becomes mandatory in Britain and Ireland to have these the better (but not breathalyser kits) and bought a spare set of light bulbs and headlamp beam adaptors.

They say the bulbs are handy to keep in the glove compartment, however with the usual amount of stuff people accumulate including car service records, the breathalyser for France, there is probably not a lot of room for the light bulbs as well!

According to the information on the Halfords pack, "If you are driving a right hand drive car from Britain or Ireland to mainland Europe you should convert your headlights. British and Irish headlamps are specificaly designed for driving on the left hand side of the road and consequently, when driving on the right in mainland Europe your headlamps will shine into oncoming traffic.

This will severely dazzle other road users, is dangerous, illegal and must be prevented at all times" It will cost you £9.99 to buy a kit and be legal and don't foreget as soon as you cross the channel back to take them off!

More tips for driving in France on this blog 

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Expensive Travel Tricks to watch out for

Last Saturday's Independent (21st July 2012) ran an article "Keep a watch out for expensive travel tricks Make sure you’re aware of holiday horrors before you head off for the sun, advises Simon Read."

First on the list was Car Hire Excess Insurance - "If you hire a car on your holiday, you’ll be pressed to buy excess insurance at your destination, even though you may have already stumped up for car cover. If you don’t, you risk being liable for up to £2,000 if the car is damaged or stolen, even if it’s not your fault."

Familiar stuff and very similar message that was used in the Press Release we put out yesterday for Carhireexcess.com  with their release "Don’t get ripped off with extra car hire charges abroad says major car hire excess insurance company"

In the Independent's article iCarhireinsurance.com  was quoted. "A survey of car hire companies last month at Barcelona airport by online broker iCarhireinsurance.com found that Hertz was charging £20.59 extra a day for the excess cover."

Well the holiday season is well and truly underway, however people hire cars throughout the year for pleasure and business so it means you can save money by buying your car hire excess insurance from a company like  Carhireexcess.com or iCarhireinsurance.com.

To read the Independent's article follow this link 

To find out more about Carhireexcess.com follow this link  

To find out more about iCarhireinsurance.com follow this link

New Driving Laws in France

Just had an email from France Magazine one of the specialist magazines about France. We used to advertise jmlvillas.com and jml-property-insurance.co.uk in this publication for many years up till 2010. Like other similar magazines it is full of topical information for visitors to France and what could be more topical than a feature on the new driving laws.

Well written by Ben McPartland it covers  the following:

GPS navigators with devices warning of the location of speed cameras (radars in France) are forbidden and anyone caught with one will face a €1,500 penalty . Make sure your SatNav does not get taken away.

Any motorist using their mobile phone will now be subject to a €135 fine - will be interesting to know if this actually will put people off. In the majority of European countries motorists will automatically put on their seatbelts, but still use their hands held mobile whilst driving which is very dangerous.

The penalty for driving on the autoroute hard shoulder has risen from €35 to €135.

Bens's article reminds us that as from 1 July, 2012, it will be compulsory for drivers to carry a self-testing breathalyser kit in their car at all times. We have featured this on this blog site twice recently, latest time on the 7th July with  "Update on Breathalyser kits in France"  These must be kept in the front of the car in the glove compartment.

We are reminded quite wisely that the French drink-drive limit of 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood is much lower than the 80mg in the UK. So many people are probably thinking they are away on holiday, out to restaurant three glasses of wine and you will be over the limit.

Speed cameras: In 2011 speed camera fines generated €630 million for the government, which earlier this year announced that a further 500 cameras were going up around the country. They are growing quickly, just like they have done in Britain. They don't always look like the old style ones and they are now not always adding the warning signs (on left) so take extra care.
Remember the following: It is now possible because of a recent European Union directive that has been adopted which now means it is possible for one EU member state to prosecute foreign nationals who have been caught committing driving offences.
If you are driving your own car have the registration and insurance documents with you at all times.
Carry your driving licence with you, be it that you are driving your own car or a hire car.
Stop signs! – Stop means just that and failure to halt before the sign can result in an on-the-spot fine, yes they will do this!
Warning Triangles and Reflective Vests - Must be kept in the interior of the car, not the boot. It is a good idea to have two of these vests as you will certainly need more if you go into Spain.

My local car repair person has also reminded me that under French law you must have a spare set of light bulbs in the carand talking of lights if you are taking your own right hand drive car to France, dont forget headlight deflectors.   

Monday 23 July 2012

Carrentals advises to research car hire excess insurance options to avoid surprise charges

Carrentals.co.uk which is one of the UK’s leading car hire comparison website, and celebrated its 5th birthday as a comparator in February 2012, is advising customers to research car hire excess insurance options to avoid surprise charges. They say in their press release  "Car hire insurance excess – plan ahead or pay the price"

They say that customers to carefully read through the terms and conditions of their car hire excess insurance policy to avoid being faced with additional charges at their vehicle pick-up location.

According to a recent survey conducted by YouGov for iCarhireinsurance.com, more than a fifth of consumers who rented a vehicle in the UK or overseas consider excess insurance to be a "rip off" when buying from the rental firm directly.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, said: "Although many people see excess insurance as an expensive hidden cost, if they shop around before they travel, or purchase this policy at the same time they make their car hire booking, the price they’ll pay for the policy will be significantly different from the price which will be offered to them at the car pick-up desk on arrival at their destination.

"It is also important to remember that a deposit on a credit card is required on the pick-up of any hire car and this applies to policies bought from external providers. This is something that often catches people out as they arrive to pick up their car without having the necessary funds, meaning they are left with little option other than to accept the often expensive policy from the pick-up desk – which isn’t a great start to the holiday."
If excess cover isn’t bought for a rental vehicle then the customer could be liable to pay up to £2000 if the car is damaged or stolen and with some insurance providers, and particularly the rental desk, the policy does not cover damage to windows, tyres, roof or the undercarriage. Excess insurance from third party providers can cost significantly less and offer more comprehensive cover than the rental provider itself.

Gareth Robinson added: "Being aware of exactly what you’re covered for is essential to ensure you’re paying a fair price and for peace of mind that you’re well protected if something was to happen to the vehicle."
Carrentals.co.uk is the UK’s leading car hire comparison site, comparing deals from up to 50 suppliers in 15,000 locations around the world to provide customers with a wide choice of vehicles at the lowest price.

To find out more about Carrentals follow this link

To find out more about iCarhireinsurance follow this link .

Friday 20 July 2012

Economy car hire has been asking if you are fed up with the weather?

The sun might be trying to break through today and the final schools are breaking up for summer, but many people are fed up with the weather in northern Europe.

Economy Car Hire sent out an eflyer yesterday saying that With the pound at a three year high against the Euro, now is a good time to escape from the grey skies and get some sunshine.There are still some great bargains to be had, so make the most of your stay and book your car hire with them.

They then featued some great destinations - Côte d’Azur, France - It stretches from Theoule-sur-Mer in the south-west of France to the town of Menton that hugs the Italian border in the east, the Côte d’Azur is one of the country’s greatest treasures. Known as the French Riviera in English, holidays here are unbelievably popular and it’s easy to see why.

Sardinia -  At the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, you will find the island of Sardinia. Characteristically Italian yet with its own individual, friendly charm, it is sophisticated and blissfully free from the droves of mainstream holidaymakers. As the second largest island in the Mediterranean, it boasts miles of perfect coastline, many entrancing towns, an interesting history and plenty of sites and activities to enjoy.

Malaga, Spain - Basking against a backdrop of stunning mountains and the sparkling blue Mediterranean, the port city of Malaga is the perfect destination for a city break on the coast. A bustling modern city yet with an Old Town area filled with relics of its past, Malaga has a very special charm that simply captures visitors and sees them return time and time again.  
Albufeira, Portugal - Slap bang in the centre of the well-loved southern coast of Portugal, drenched in year round sunshine and boasting a gorgeous coastline, Albufeira is the heart of the Algarve and not only because of its location.
With fantastic sandy beaches, the alluring Old Town complete with cobbled streets, a pretty marina, a vast range of resorts, lively nightlife and enjoyable attractions within easy reach, it ticks all the boxes for families, singles and couples alike.

To find out more about Economy Car Hire click Here

To find self catering accommodation on those areas featured by Economy Car Hire (plus many more) visit jmlvillas here

Saturday 7 July 2012

Update on Breathalyser kits in France

On the 2nd July, we ran an article on this blog  "Breathalyser kits now obligatory in cars in France - check your hire car " with information from The Riviera Reporter.

The magazine had said " But have you tried finding one? Car accessory shops, dealerships, pharmacies and hypermarkets have all run out. So while possessing the test is technically obligatory, fines will only be handed out from November. In the meantime you are likely to only get a warning"

After arriving at Nice airport on Thursday this week (5th July 2012) and being greeted with signs at the car Hire collection counter saying it was mandatory to have these, I checked the car I just hired through Holiday Autos agents.

The breathalyser must be kept in the glove compartment of the car. There certainly was not one in my car. So I looked in the bag on the back seat containing the obligatory reflective vest and warning triangle (these have to be kept in the main part of the car not in the boot for speedy access), but again nothing there.

Yesterday morning I thought I would try and buy one as I did not want to be fined. I went into a pharmacy in Valbonne. No they certainly did not have any.

It will be intersesting to hear other car renters excperiences on this subject and to see how long it will be before you can buy them and if car hire companies will be providing them in cars or selling them to clients at the point of collection.

16th July 2012

I returned the hire car to Nice Airport and whilst it was being checked in asked about the breathalyser kits and when would they be in the company's hire cars. I was told that they are not supplying them yet. No doubt waiting till later in the year when the fines start rolling out!

Monday 2 July 2012

Breathalyser kits now obligatory in cars in France - check your hire car

Heard from the Riviera Reporter yesterday. The Riviera Reporter has been the magazine in English on the French Riviera since 1987.

Yesterday was the 1st July, the day new rules cam in about Mandatory breathalyzers in cars.

The article said that as of today, each vehicle must now be equipped with a chemical or electronic breathalyser, so drivers can check that the legal limit (0.5 g per liter of blood or 0.25 mg / l of breath) has not been exceeded. Excess alcohol in 2011 remained the leading cause of death on the roads of France.

Motorists will have to tidy in their glove box to find a small place. As of July 1st 2012, breathalyzers are indeed mandatory in vehicles. Launched by the former government, this measure aims at cultivating new habits of self among road users. Are concerned, motorists in the broad sense as drivers of electric vehicles without a license will also need to get a breathalyzer.

For two-wheelers, holders of mopeds less than 50cm ³ are exempted. Even though the association l'association, Prévention routière says it really affects young people, aged 14 to 18 particularly vulnerable to alcohol consumption.

With this equipment, everyone can check that the legal limit allowed (0.5 g per liter of blood or 0.25 mg / l of breath) is not exceeded. Drivers can buy the chemical breathalyzer for €1 or an electronic breathalyser available from €90. But beware, before testing, it will be imperative to wait thirty minutes for the alcohol enters the bloodstream. Otherwise, in case of a control, the person who thought he was safe could be over the limit
For ten years in France the death rate is almost unchanged: excess alcohol on the roads causes nearly a third of road deaths: 1150 in 2011. "This is much higher than that found in England (17%) or Germany (10%), whereas alcohol consumption per capita is almost identical to that of our country. The separation between drinking and driving is more respected,” said the association Prévention routière.

This boosts sales of such equipment. "We produce between 4 and 8 million chemical breathalysers a month when the annual sales previously were over 6 to 8 million products. The market for breath alcohol testing devices is also experiencing strong growth. We saw 100,000 to 150,000 sales a year instead of 25,000," said Pierre Elefteriou CEO of Pelimex, one of the leading companies in France. Same story in Contralco, another leading company. "To meet the orders were hired. We went from 61 to 112 employees and plan to recruit 90 more people," says project manager Daniel Orgeval.

Interior Ministry has decided not to punish offenders immediately. But as of November 1st there will be a fine of €11 to those who do not have a breathalyzer in the car." (All of the article Here)

They also ran another article on their blog that included these comments " In principle all drivers in France - resident or foreign - are meant to have at least one unused "ethylotest" breathalyser in their car from tomorrow, 1 July.

But have you tried finding one? Car accessory shops, dealerships, pharmacies and hypermarkets have all run out. So while possessing the test is technically obligatory, fines will only be handed out from November. In the meantime you are likely to only get a warning.

A reminder that not all brands are legally acceptable and that there is already a black market for illicit tests. The legal ones carry the "NF" label.

The accredited suppliers of the approved devices can't produce them fast enough, so if you get a chance to buy yours, get it now. There's likely to be another shortage as the November deadline approaches. "

I have just logged into the Port of Dover website, they are not including these kits in their "Make sure your car has and Make sure you carry" sections yet. No doubt anyone crossing to France from England or Ireland will be reminded of this at the port and shops on the ferries and at the ports will be selling this product.

It will be interesting to see that the car hire companies at Nice Airport are fully equipped for the new regulations later this week. As it is now they have to provid a pack containing a reflective vest and warning triangle. (I will be adding information to this blog then) 

If you are off to France looking for car hire, take a look at  the Car hire page at the insurance4carrental.com site to find out more about Holiday Autos, Economy Car Hire, Carrentals and Rentalcars.com. Follow this link

The Riviera Reporter comes out every couple of months. You can download the magazine here to find out about life on the French Riviera.